As a seasoned entrepreneur and business leader, I am often approached by young people who ask me what is “the worst business advice I have received”. While it is not easy to answer a question, I think it is important to explain that the phrase “don’t take it personally” can be dangerous to live with, especially when it comes to business and entrepreneurship.
At first glance, “don’t take it personally” seems like good advice, drawing the lines between what is personal and what is business, but any good entrepreneur should know that everything is personal. In the age of “turn-and-burn” business, don’t take it “personal” is the name of the game; However, this mentality shatters the best of what the business has to offer: relationships.
I’m a long haul person who thinks that if my name is there, it’s personal. When I look at new business and say “yes”; our clients get my personal guarantee to treat their business as if it were my own. We are fighting battles on their behalf that they will never know and that we will never talk about. When it ceases to be personal, we lose the love relationship with our customers and are simply transactional.
If it’s not personal, you’re not really invested. Your word is worth very little, and your effort even less.
When someone rejects your idea, product or service, it is so often said, “Don’t take it personally. While always well-meaning, the best thing to say is, “What did you learn? Even in the worst meetings I have attended in my life, I would find it hard to say I learned nothing.
Over the years my partner and I have had hundreds of employees; and hands down, the best of the best have been those who to do take it personally.
I could name our star employees right now and without a doubt, the common thing they all share is that their work, the feedback on their work, the impact of their work, and the community’s response to their work, are all very personal to them. .
When someone says: “I take it personally” (in the right context), I know it’s unlikely to be a partner or one of my employees. Those who take it personally don’t need to say it. You feel it in their presence. There is no personal excellence without understanding that it is all staff.
Be strong enough to know that even the person who says the worst is simply teaching you. If you ignore this and just say “don’t take it personally,” you rarely think about it enough to have learned anything.
See this post and others like it on my LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/worst-business-advice-ive-ever-received-dont-take-dawn-strobel/